Mickaël Harpon, who stabbed three police officers and a woman civil servant to death before he was killed at Paris police headquarters on October 3rd, was a radical Islamist with a top secret security clearance and access to all computers in the police prefecture’s directorate of intelligence known as the DRPP.
Le Parisien reported on its website that a USB memory device found in the assailant’s house had personal details about several dozen of his colleagues at police headquarters, as well as several Islamic State propaganda videos.
The paper added that it was not clear whether the attacker had shared that information with others. Authorities fear that police officers’ lives could be at risk if details about their identities or addresses fall in the wrong hands.
The DRPP is responsible for the surveillance of suspected radical Islamists. Yet Harpon continued to work there, even as he showed signs of radicalisation.
A four-page police prefecture report published Sunday by France Inter radio says “several” of Harpon’s colleagues “revealed having noticed in the past … signs of radicalisation”. They “alerted their superiors" or sought advice from colleagues "specialised in such matters” as a result. The document says Harpon expressed support for the terrorist attack that killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo in 2015, saying the satirical magazine’s cartoonists “had it coming”.
In the report, Françoise Bilancini, who heads the Paris Police Prefecture’s Intelligence Directorate (DRPP), writes that those items of information only came to her attention “in the course of informal discussions” after Thursday’s deadly attack.
The remarks, as well as changes colleagues observed in Harpon’s behaviour towards women, were the subject of an informal discussion in July 2015 between two police officer colleagues and a police major charged with fielding reports on radicalisation. The major was told about the fact that Harpon had married a Muslim woman, had converted to Islam, and had stopped shaking hands with or embracing women. But the officers declined to file a formal report.
So his peers knew he was a potential problem, but their concerns were poo-pooed. Sounds about right. Don't rock the good boat diversity you little islamophobe - nothing to see here.
Harpon had defended “atrocities committed in the name of that religion”, anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said Saturday. Investigators later revealed that Harpon had in fact been in contact with adherents of Salafism, the ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. It is not known whether Harpon divulged secrets to fellow Islamists, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told France Inter radio. “I cannot guarantee he did not use his access to give information. For the time being, nothing indicates that he did.”
Mr Castaner acknowledged on Sunday that officials should have kept a closer eye on him after investigators found evidence Harpon had supported an extreme version of Islam. Castaner has come under fire after initially claiming that Harpon had never given the “slightest reason for alarm” ahead of Thursday’s attack.
“Obviously, there were failings,” Castaner told TF1 television, but he dismissed calls from some right-wing opponents for him to resign.
On Sunday, Castaner noted that none of Harpon’s colleagues had wanted to file an official complaint over their suspicions he had been radicalizing.
“Apparently they decided not to make a report,” Castaner said. “The failure occurred at this moment. There was nothing in his personnel file that indicated he might be radicalised... If there had been a sign, maybe we could have avoided this,” he said.
Éric Diard, a conservative deputy in the National Assembly and author of a report on Islamism in the public service, said there were “flashing red lights” in Harpon’s case. Mr Diard’s report says 30 policemen and 80 Paris airport employees are under surveillance for radicalisation
I don't think it was the junior colleague's fault - who knows what pressure was on them not to be 'Islamophobic'. Look at the woman in Rotherham who was sent on a diversity course and warned to never, ever gain mention the Pakistani Muslim ethnicity of the rape gangs at work in that town. Different countries with a different Civil Service each, but I bet a pound to a penny the same culture of secrecy.
Harpon attended prayers at the mosque in Gonesse, the banlieue north of Paris where he lived. He had recently begun wearing Muslim robes to the mosque and frequented Salafists, Muslims who interpet the Koran literally and want to return to the time of the Prophet. His mobile phone showed contact with a radical preacher who is under police surveillance, Le Figaro reported.
But no jihadist group has claimed responsibility for Harpon’s actions. There is no evidence, Mr Castaner said, “of an organised system with an organised cell”.
Many French people are stunned that Harpon’s superiors ignored his behaviour. Castaner said that in future, indications of radicalisation will be acted upon immediately. About 20 officers have been expelled from the French police force since the jihadist attacks of 2015-16.
The DRPP had dropped surveillance of the Kouachi brothers, who committed the atrocity at Charlie Hebdo, and of one of the killers in the Bataclan massacre. It also ignored a reference in a text message exchanged by Islamists to Saint-Étienne de Rouvray, a small town in Normandy. One week later, they murdered a priest there.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a weekly on Sunday that he had ordered inspectors to review procedures in the intelligence department of the police headquarters and anti-terror intelligence unit to detect signs of radicalization among civil servants.
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